Why do people take forskolin?
People take forskolin supplements for many reasons. But very little substantial evidence exists to back its use for any health condition.
Some research suggests that forskolin may aid in weight loss and muscle building. In one very small study, overweight and obese men took 250 milligrams of a 10% forskolin extract twice a day. After 12 weeks, they lost more body fat and had a greater increase in testosterone levels compared to similar men taking a placebo. But more research must be done to confirm these results and establish its safety.
Forskolin has a long history as a folk remedy for asthma. Some research supports that. Forskolin appears to work in a way similar to certain types of conventional asthma drugs, by boosting the levels of a compound called cyclic AMP. This helps relax the muscles around the bronchial tubes to make breathing easier.
Another potential use of forskolin is for people with idiopathic congestive cardiomyopathy, which can cause heart failure. In a small study, patients who took forskolin through an IV showed improved heart function.
Optimal doses for forskolin have not been established for any condition. Also, as with supplements generally, the quality of the active ingredients and the level of concentration in products that contain forskolin vary from maker to maker. Some experts recommend that forskolin only be taken under the supervision of a health care professional.
Can you get forskolin naturally from foods?
While forskolin does come from an herb, it has only been studied as an extract. No evidence is available regarding any potential benefits from the whole herb
What are the risks of taking forskolin?
It is not known whether taking forskolin is safe, because it has not been thoroughly studied. Some negative reactions to forskolin have been reported. These include:
- Flushing, fast heart beats, and low blood pressure when taken through an IV
- Upper respiratory tract irritation, cough, tremor, and restlessness when inhaled
- Stinging of the eyes and enlarging of the blood vessels in the eyes
People taking blood thinners or anti-platelet drugs should not take forskolin. Also, certain high blood pressure drugs may interact with forskolin, including:
- Calcium channel blockers
Avoid taking forskolin if you take such medications.
Forskolin should also be avoided if you have polycystic kidney disease. The safety of forskolin in pregnant and breastfeeding women is not known, so they should avoid it.
Talk to your doctor about potential risks before you take forskolin or any other dietary supplement.
Does Forskolin Actually Work? An Evidence-Based Review
Losing weight can be extremely difficult.
Studies show that only 15% of people succeed using conventional weight loss methods
Those who fail are more likely to seek solutions like dietary supplements and herbal medicines.
One of them is called forskolin, a natural plant compound claimed to be an impressive weight loss supplement.
This article takes a detailed look at forskolin and the science behind it.
Forskolin is an active compound found in the roots of the Indian coleus (Coleus forskohlii), a tropical plant related to mint.
For centuries, this plant has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat various conditions and diseases
Modern scientific research has now shown that some of these health benefits may be true, or at least plausible.
As a weight-loss supplement, forskolin gained popularity in the US after being featured on the Dr. Oz Show in January 2014.
Many studies have investigated the effects of forskolin on fat metabolism.
Most of them are test-tube experiments or animal studies, so the result may not be applicable to humans.
Put simply, forskolin stimulates the release of stored fat from fat cells . The same thing happens whenever the body needs to use body fat for energy.
On its own, the release of stored fat is not enough to promote weight loss – it needs to be accompanied by a calorie deficit.
In other words, for weight loss to happen, energy expenditure (calories out) must exceed energy intake (calories in).
Weight loss supplements can support a calorie deficit by:
- Suppressing appetite.
- Reducing efficiency of digestion.
- Increasing metabolic rate (fat burning).
As far as we know, forskolin does not cause any of these things to happen.
However, clinical trials in humans have provided some promising results. It appears that forskolin may promote fat loss while preserving muscle mass
These effects are discussed in the next chapter.
So far, only two small studies have investigated the effects of forskolin on weight loss in humans
Both of them were randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of scientific research in humans.
The largest trial recruited 30 overweight and obese men, who were then randomly assigned to two groups:
- Forskolin group: 15 men were supplemented with 250 mg of Coleus forskohlii extract (10% forskolin) twice a day for 12 weeks.
- Placebo group: 15 men took the same amount of dummy pills (placebo).
Compared to the placebo group, men who took forskolin lost significantly more fat, but total body weight did not change
Additionally, there was a significant increase in free testosterone in the forskolin group. Testosterone can stimulate the release of fat from fat cells, which may partly explain the fat loss observed in the study
A rise in testosterone can also promote an increase in muscle mass. In fact, there was a trend towards an increase in lean body mass in the forskolin group, but it was not statistically significant.
In the other study, 23 overweight women received the same dose of Coleus forskohlii (500 mg/day) for 12 weeks.
In contrast to the previous study, forskolin supplementation did not have any significant effects on fat loss, but the results suggested that forskolin may protect against weight gain
In conclusion, 12-week supplementation with forskolin does not cause weight loss, but it may improve body composition in men and prevent weight gain in women.
All that being said, the current evidence is not strong enough to make any recommendations. More research is needed.
The Indian coleus plant (which contains Forskolin) has been a part of traditional herbal medicine for centuries.
It has been used to treat conditions such as heart disease, asthma, bronchitis and constipation
In humans, forskolin supplements may also:
- Widen the air passages in the lungs, helping to relieve asthma
- Increase bone mineral density, lowering the risk of osteoporosis
- Stimulate testosterone formation, promoting the maintenance of muscle mass
There are also studies in test tubes or laboratory animals indicating other benefits.
The typical dosage of forskolin is 100-250 mg of Coleus forskohlii (10% forskolin), twice per day.
Forskolin does not appear to have any adverse effects in humans, but its safety profile has not been fully evaluated
Based on the current evidence, it is clear that forskolin does not cause weight loss.
However, one study in men indicates that it may raise testosterone levels and improve body composition, as in making you lose fat while increasing muscle mass.
At this point, the evidence is way too limited to reach any meaningful conclusions.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to be skeptical of all weight loss supplements. Some of them show promise in early studies, only to be proven completely ineffective in larger, higher quality studies.
If you want more information on weight loss supplements, some of which may actually work, read this: